26 Aug 2016

More than Just a Number

Submitted by isport

Many people are superstitious about numbers and sportsmen in particular seem to be wary about choosing just the right one when the seasonal squads are announced.

Those of us that can cast our memories further back will also recall how football clubs avoided using the number 13 on matchdays so clearly this is serious stuff.

Numbers are important to the betting fraternity too with some potential customers comparing casinos and sportsbooks and making a choice based on digits. Ever noticed that many casinos have the number 8 in their brand? It’s because it’s considered incredibly lucky in some parts of the world.

Not so Happy Hammer
When Paulo Futre arrived at West Ham via AC Milan at the start of the 1996/97 season he was less than pleased to see that the club had already given his favoured number 10 shirt to midfielder John Moncur.

West Ham’s then manager Harry Redknapp revealed that Futre was furious and even called in his lawyer in an attempt to resolve the situation. He said that he was willing to pay up to £100,000 to switch the numbers but eventually, the club were able to get the change authorised by the FA while Moncur accepted a free holiday in his new team mate’s luxury Portuguese villa.

It doesn’t add up
One of the most bizarre shirt stories of all time saw Chilean International Ivan Zamorano take to the field wearing the number 1+8. Having arrived at his new club Inter Milan, the player was furious to see that his favoured number 9 shirt had been handed to the legendary Brazilian Ronaldo, thereby prompting a strange use of basic addition to get back to his preference.

Back to front
Known as a midfielder with an eye for important goals, USA international Clint Dempsey scored 57 times in the Premier League in spells with Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur. That’s not a record you would usually associate with a man wearing the number 2 on his back – a shirt usually handed to the first choice right back.

And the reason for this? None other than superstition really for the man you would become known as ‘Deuce’. When he started playing at College level the number 2 was the first shirt he wore and so far it has stayed with him over a long and impressive career.

Party like it’s your birthday
Back to Italy for our final story and AC Milan where a number of players sported some odd looking numbers at the start of the new century. Andriy Shevchenko (76), Mathieu Flamini (84) and Ronaldinho (80) were among those to take part but behind it all was a very simple explanation.

Each of those players had chosen their birth year to be displayed and in an era where anything goes, it was perfectly acceptable for the Italian FA. But what would have happened if two players were after the same shirt? Perhaps another £100,000 offer similar to that from Paulo Futre would have been needed in order to make the switch.